Dart, government seek input on project environmental impact
A rowdy public hearing in Bodden Town put Dart group representatives and Health Minister Mark Scotland on the hot seat as residents wondered why a proposed landfill must go in the Midland Acres area.
The meeting was held to inform residents about the project in Grand Cayman and give them an opportunity to provide comments on the terms of reference for the upcoming environmental impact assessment of the landfill site.
The public comment period ends 29 November.
“No one’s saying that we should do nothing, the problem has to be fixed and it should have been fixed years ago,” said Alan Beiner, chairman of the Coalition to Keep Bodden Town Dump Free. “If indeed the dump has to be moved, there should be an independent … not paid for by Dart … an independent site selection process. This is a sham.”
Midland Acres resident Benton Conolly said the waste management facility would be closest to his neighbourhood, which is just east of Bodden Town proper, but still well within the district.
“If that site was determined as the best site in Cayman to put the dump, why didn’t government purchase the land?” he asked. “All of the land is owned by Dart. When Dart decides to leave this country … what is the government going to do?”
Minister Scotland, who represents the Bodden Town district as a member of the Legislative Assembly, fielded questions from the audience, often having to wait to respond while people shouted over his answers.
Mr. Scotland said the previous government had used a similar environmental impact exercise while considering a waste-to-energy facility at the current landfill site in central George Town.
“Only one [site] alternative was being considered … at that time it was a similar exercise and a precedent was set there,” he said.
The waste-to-energy solution was estimated to cost $120 million for start up costs and another $12 to $13 million a year to run the facility.
“Money, that’s the problem,” Mr. Scotland said. “I’ve never said the project cannot be addressed in George Town … what I’ve said is that it costs to do that.”
Department of Environment Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie, who sits on the government’s Environmental Advisory Board for the landfill project, said her group initially recommended that the board look at “alternatives, including alternative technologies” for the landfill.
“However, we were advised that policy decisions had been taken by the government with respect to the project and that the project had been defined as this project at this location and that is what we have engaged in … since we came on board in February,” she said.
The environmental impact assessment will be handled in a partnership with three groups, the Environmental Advisory Board, United States-based consulting firm Cardno Entrix and Dart Realty Cayman.
Once the public comment period ends, the public’s concerns will be taken into account and the scope of the terms of reference for the study will be finalised.
The environmental impact assessment will then be conducted based on the terms of reference and an “environmental statement” – essentially a summary of the environmental impact assessment will be presented. Following that completion of the statement, Dart representatives said another public consultation process will be held.